Monday, March 15, 2021

This Day in TV History: Robert Forster IS Banyon!

50 years ago tonight, Banyon premiered on NBC. The Robert Forster P.I. series (it was written especially with him in mind) lasted a mere 16 episodes but still sounds cool.

After this airing of the two-hour pilot, the series made the Fall 1972 schedule for Fridays at 10:00 P.M. but was off the air by the end of January 1973. Martin was brought on after the movie, which must explain the year-and-a-half gap before the series proper began. Forster was the only cast member to make it to the regular series, which co-starred Joan Blondell and Richard Jaeckel.

Less than a year ago, to mark the late Forster's birthday, we picked this series as a "What We'd Like to See," and it still has that status! Here is a great post summarizing the original movie and recounting how original creator Ed Adamson was apparently edged out by Martin. The author calls the role, at least in the pilot, a rare misfire of a performance by Forster, but I am still intrigued.

The Quinn Martin show set in 1930s Los Angeles is controlled by Warner Brothers but presumably has some kind of issue preventing it from home video release. I don't think the show even made it to the dearly departed Warner Archive Instant streaming service.

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